Sorry, Kids

April 3, 2015 — Leave a comment

I wish I was this cool in class. You deserve more.

Research Updates

June 11, 2014 — Leave a comment

I’m happy to report that I have a full-length journal paper editorially accepted and in press! It is called, “Template-Based Intervention in Boolean Network Models of Biological Systems,” and it is scheduled to appear in the EURASIP Journal on Bioinformatics and Systems Biology special issue on Systems Engineering Approaches for Bioinformatics, Genomics, and Computational Biology. Also interesting is that the journal title with the special issue is longer than the paper title!

I will also be presenting a poster on the same topic at the upcoming 22nd Annual International Conference on Intelligent Systems for Molecular Biology (ISMB). Soon I’ll update the research pages of this site with further details on the project.

This about summarizes it. From


The Hour of Code

January 16, 2014 — Leave a comment

One of my students sent me this video.


I recently finished my Ph.D. after a little while at my first job.  They graciously hired me in an ABD status and, because of that, I got to share with a lot of my students what I was going through.  I wish I had found this earlier, as the illustrated view is much easier to digest.  I am copying this content from Matt Might with his permission under the Creative Commons license.  The original can be found at this URL:


Imagine a circle that contains all of human knowledge:

By the time you finish elementary school, you know a little:

By the time you finish high school, you know a bit more:

With a bachelor’s degree, you gain a specialty:

A master’s degree deepens that specialty:

Reading research papers takes you to the edge of human knowledge:

Continue Reading…

Here is an email I sent to my freshmen students today, after a tough, long, lab session.

Hi Students,

First of all, thank you all for putting in work in the lab today. I was really proud of you all. I know it’s frustrating sometimes, but, like a rubber band, you’re not much use unless you’re being stretched.

Second, here’s an interesting way to think about our lab time together:

  • For knobs, in-state annual tuition (without other stuff) is $10,845 per year. Out of state is $30,630. Let’s split that in the middle at $20,000.
  • Most of you take 18-20 credit hours per semester. Let’s call it 18 hours to stick more to the traditional academic classes. That’s 36 credit hours per year.
  • $20,000/36 = $555.55 per credit hour.
  • CSCI 201 is a four credit course x $555.55 = $2222.22 to take my class.
  • Our semester is about 14 weeks, so that’s about $158.73 per week to take my class.
  • We meet 255 minutes per week, and our lab (at 105 minutes) is 41.2% of that time. Thus, the lab costs you $65.40 per week to attend.

Continue Reading…

It’s nice to finally get that link for our new paper!  Major props to my colleague Sungwon Jung for leading this effort.

I’m working late/early on another journal paper to be submitted soon, so watch for that notice!  (This post is also serving as my accountability system, so thanks for helping with that.)

Recursive Algorithms

February 15, 2013 — Leave a comment

Today in 223 we talked about the (in)famous Towers of Hanoi problem and how such a complex task can be written with just 3 steps.  You can find stuff everywhere, but here is one animation that actually looks pretty nice.  Remember to try and see the size n-1 problem being solved within the size n problem.  You should be able to write the algorithm out and explain it to a person of average intelligence — that’s how you know that you know what’s going on.

We also discussed maze traversal with recursive backtracking.  You can find the website I used here.

“Cheating is contemptible and those who cheat are reprehensible.”

When I first read those words as a sophomore computer science student at Arizona State University, I was reading my syllabus from CSE 421 — a class that accidentally had no prerequisites that I took at the same time as CSE 240.  I was in way over my head, but I took it to have one shot with a legendary professor who was about to retire.  Taking that class changed everything for me and he is the reason I teach today.

The first thing I did when I read that sentence was to look up the words “contemptible” and “reprehensible” in the dictionary.  They are linked above for your convenience.  The next thing I did was reflect on my short career as an undergraduate and how many, many times, I had been tempted to “just peek” at Google for a little help.  Or wish I could “just peek” at the instructor solutions manual for my textbook.  In computer science, everything is online; you learn to program by example.  Looking at the examples in your text is the same thing as looking online — it’s just that online you might find code that does exactly what you need it to whereas your book will stop short of the exercises (for your benefit).

I had never been more tempted to cheat in my life than when my professor passed out our first pop quiz (called a “shotgun”, a name I’ve since adopted for my quizzes).  The first shotgun was on the first day of class and consisted mostly of arithmetic in different number bases, including long division.  It was at that moment I realized, with great panic, that I completely forgot how to do long division by hand.  I was going to miss four questions.  In college.  For long division.

The student next to me was plowing away at his quiz.  If I could take just one peek, I would remember everything and be fine on my own.  But for some reason this professor created a different environment in the class, and I said no.  Left ’em blank.

Continue Reading…